FCC's 2.5-GHz Auction Begins

A gavel on top of a stack of money
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bidding has begun in the Federal Communications Commission’s latest midband spectrum auction, with over 8,000 flexible-use licenses available in the 2.5-GHz band.

Qualified bidders include AT&T, Verizon Communications, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular.

“We all know there are gaps in 5G coverage, especially in rural America, and this auction is a unique opportunity to fill them in,” FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel said following the Friday morning (July 29), 10 a.m. launch. “I am grateful to the teams that have worked so hard to both stand up this auction and ensure the success of our efforts to make these airwaves available to tribes to support wireless service in their communities.”

Also: FCC Closes Tribal Window for 12 GHz

Congress appears poised to pass legislation reauthorizing the FCC's spectrum auction authority. Without that reauthorization, the agency could run into logistical issues if the auction extends beyond September 30, when the current authorization expires.

There is only a single, six-hour round to start with, then the auction moves to two, two-hour rounds per day until further notice.

The FCC is opening up midband spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band for 5G. It is currently used -- or underused, the FCC says -- by educational broadband services (EBS).

EBS, formerly Instructional Television Fixed Service, or ITFS, was used in the 1960s for closed-circuit broadcasts to educational institutions. It was rebooted in the early 2000s and pointed toward broadband.

The FCC has eliminated use requirements and leasing restrictions on the band.

It also created an early local priority window for tribal nations that drew more than 400 applications. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.